“I always had a crush on him, and I still do,” she said Saturday. “He was an amazing husband and I was very proud of him.”
Meredith highlighted her husband’s fervent commitment to the people he assisted as part of his career in criminal justice. She described his participation in the annual memorial service for Montgomery County’s homicide victims from the previous year; he would read aloud each victim’s name.
“You could just see he had feeling for each family there, and it was so touching to me to see all the families that came up and thanked him for getting justice for their loved ones,” Meredith said. “It was very meaningful for him.”
Levinson’s sons remember their dad as a dedicated and caring father.
“He was a very busy dad, but always took time to play catch,” Joel said. “He was a really voracious reader and he developed a love of classical music during his sophomore year of college, something he never thought he’d enjoy. He ended up loving it thanks to one great professor, who introduced him.”
Stephen fondly recalls his father’s “ultra-gentle sweetness” with family, and his unceasing tendency to put the needs of others before his own. It was in retirement that Levinson began taking time for himself by making solo road trips, a hobby that his family says he grew to love.
“These trips were an opportunity for him to spend as much time reading as he wanted, to eat what he wanted, and go at his own pace in a way that he hadn’t done before in his life because when he’s around another person, he’s looking to help them and put them first,” Stephen said.
Levinson preferred the unhurried mode of travel over an airplane any day, Joel said, even taking multiple trips to California to visit him when he lived there.
“His favorite place on any of those trips was a place called Tinkertown (in Sandia Park, New Mexico),” Joel said. “It’s this cute, quirky, interesting museum he’d discovered randomly on his way and he’d take people there whenever he could, and convince anyone who was driving across the country to make the stop.”
Levinson was a lifelong member of Temple Israel and an ardent supporter of the State of Israel, his family said. Through in-depth study of the Holocaust, he was inspired to seek a career that would allow him to give voice to victims who could not speak for themselves.
Levinson studied political science at Brandeis University, received a master’s degree from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and earned his law degree at the University of Cincinnati.
His professional endeavors included service as the regional director of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, a robust career as assistant prosecutor for Montgomery County, and time as head of the Montgomery County Violent Crimes Division, where those he worked with say he was respected for his work ethic, dedication, honesty, and unfaltering commitment to victims.
Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck grew to know Levinson through the years, both professionally and personally.
“I remember the day he started in 1973,” Heck said Saturday. “He’s what I would call a prosecutor’s prosecutor; he really enjoyed the practice of law and he thrived at being a prosecuting attorney.”
Heck describes Levinson as having a sharp intellect and quick wit, with a work ethic “beyond belief.” Levinson left a positive impact on anyone with whom he worked, Heck said.
“Victims and their families loved his commitment to what they were going through and his effort to seek justice,” Heck said. “Even defense lawyers, people who were against him in court, will tell you that they admired him because he was honest. His word was his bond.”
Judge Barbara P. Gorman, now retired from Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, recalls Levinson in a similar light, describing him as “brilliant” and someone who quickly became a friend. The two met while Gorman was working as an assistant prosecutor in the civil division.
Gorman said prior to meeting with Levinson, she was a bit intimidated by him, given his esteemed reputation as a gifted attorney.
“Once you meet him, he’s absolutely amazing and the antithesis of intimidating,” Gorman said. “I had an interesting, unusual case and someone suggested I talk to him. I was a little hesitant, but I’m so glad I did because as soon as you walked into his office, he made you feel comfortable.”
Many of those close with Levinson also describe him as a great mentor.
“It wasn’t just case law he could talk and teach you about, he also taught you about life,” Gorman said. “He was a wonderful man.”
Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Mary Montgomery said she has benefitted greatly through the years from Levinson’s professional and personal friendship, as well as his unfaltering guidance, though she said Saturday that the word “mentor” doesn’t do him justice.
“You would leave his office energized and ready to be the best attorney you possibly could to make him proud of you,” Montgomery said. “He had a way of talking to you that made you want to be a better person.”
Montgomery said Levinson was a “huge presence” that will be deeply missed in the lives of all who knew him.
“He was the best form of a human being that could ever exist,” she said. “We were the lucky ones to know him and live in his world.”
A funeral service will be held at Temple Israel, 130 Riverside Drive at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be considered for the Dayton chapter of Hadassah Hospital, P.O. Box 292815, Dayton, Ohio 45429.